Coming out racially

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There are even adoptive families that don’t survive the adoptee coming out racially, so it is sad but not surprising that couples and other relationships also experience tremendous pressure.  One story:

When I met my girlfriend, who is also white, we were both coming out and helped one another accept and understand our sexuality, which really brought us together. Now I’m coming out racially—as a woman of color.

I don’t mean to blame my girlfriend—who has yet to come out to her conservative family and knows what it is to be marginalized. But it bothers me that she doesn’t understand why people make a deal about race. I recommend books to her about racial oppression and white privilege, but she says I am forcing us apart by focusing on our differences. 

Coming out racially, which really only an adoptee can experience, can be as scary and life-evolving as coming out sexually.  Many of the thoughts and experiences she describes occur to some Asian Americans, to be sure, but the level to which adoptees in white families can feel part of the Italian / Swedish / etc heritage, feel biologically related to these people who are white, feel attached to their non-Asian family name, and feel part of the mainstream brings a vastly deeper immersion into white culture that cannot be overstated.  When adoptees suddenly realize that none of this is necessarily true, that there is another whole, different side to them, it can be an exhilarating discovery, but cause a massive rift with people they had related to so easily before.

Ask Lisa: Coming Out Racially


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